How down can these Virginia rockers get? On their third CD, the atmosphere of detachment pervades nearly every track, with little emotional or dynamic variation and no climaxes. Imagine the weary, wandering, subdued sound of Radioheadís "Paranoid Android" without the potent crescendo, full of redundant guitar triplets, and led by Thom Yorke at his blandest and most uninspired. Littered with glittering ambiguities, singer Keeley Davisís lyrics betray a deep unhappiness that both permeates and drains the album.
Not that there arenít some rewards. Melodically offbeat and occasionally discordant buzzing guitar riffs and arpeggios provide almost every track, especially the catchy "Pantomime" and the bitterly hopeful "Relief Sketch," with a driving and distorted guitar-fueled energy. But when Davis grovels, in his lifeless drawl, "I canít make these simple starts and stops/In a brief itís on the floor/Suddenly itís worth no more" on the depressing "Taken In," itís almost physically tiring. Even the female harmonies of his sister Maura on the duet "Closed Call" do little to relieve the monotony. And though Davis has a flair for layering sounds, he always comes up with the same basic tonal textures and rarely puts his angst to good use.